Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
The 21st All India Review Meeting on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) was recently held under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Statistics &Program Implementation.
Nodal Secretaries from States/UTs overseeing the implementation of MPLADS scheme took part in the deliberations. The focus was on issues related to the implementation of MPLADS with the States/UTs so that the Ministry can take steps to address these for further improvements in its implementation.
The major problems being faced in the implementation of the Scheme at the District level include: Non submission of requisite documents in time to the Ministry such as Audit Certificate, Utilization Certificate, Provisional Utilization Certificate, Monthly Progress Report, Bank Statement and Online Monthly Progress Report.
Performance of the scheme:
Since April, 2014 out of 4,67,144 works recommended by the MPs (Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha), 4,11,612 works have been sanctioned and 3,84,260 works have been completed upto 31st July, 2018. Since inception, till 31.07.2018, Rs 47,922.75 Crores have been released under the Scheme and works of Rs 49,065.58. Crores have been sanctioned by the District Authorities. Of the total release since inception, Rs 45604.94 Crore have been utilized. This is more than ninety-five percent of the release.
About MPLAD scheme:
It was launched in December, 1993, to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
Works under the scheme: Works, developmental in nature, based on locally felt needs and always available for the use of the public at large, are eligible under the scheme. Preference under the scheme is given to works relating to national priorities, such as provision of drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, roads, etc.
Funds: Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities. The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsablee. The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
Execution of works: The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned district authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned state government. The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
Recommendation of works: The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies. The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected. Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
Report on “Worngful Prosecution
The Law Commission of India has submitted its Report titled ‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies’ to the Government of India.
The High Court of Delhi in the case of Babloo Chauhan had expressed grave concern about the state of innocent persons being wrongfully prosecuted, incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit. The Court highlighted the urgent need for a legislative framework for provided relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution, incarceration and asked the Law Commission to undertake a comprehensive examination of the aforesaid issued and make a recommendation thereon to the Government of India.
What is wrongful prosecution?
Internationally, the issue of wrongful prosecution, incarceration, and conviction of innocent persons is identified as ‘miscarriage of justice’ that takes place after a person has been wrongfully convicted but is later found to be factually innocent basis a new fact / proof coming to light.
As per the law commission, ‘Wrongful prosecution’ would include cases where the accused and not guilty of the offence, and the police and / or the prosecution engaged in some form of misconduct in investigating and / or prosecuting the person. It would include both the cases where the person spent time in prison as well as where he did not; and cases where the accused was found not guilty by the trial court or where the accused was convicted by one or more courts but was ultimately found to be not guilty by the Higher Court.
Highlights of the report:
This report looks at the issue from the context of Indian Criminal Justice system and recommends ‘wrongful prosecution’ to be the standards of miscarriage of justice, as against ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘wrongful incarceration’.
The Report gives an overview of the remedies available under the existing laws and discusses their inadequacies (also noted by the High Court in the aforementioned Order).
The Commission recommends enactment of a specific legal provision for redressal of cases of wrongful prosecution – to provide relief to the victims of wrongful prosecution in terms of monetary and non-monetary compensation (such as counselling, mental health services, vocational / employment skills development etc.) within a statutory framework.
The Report enumerates the core principles of the recommended framework- defining ‘wrongful prosecution’ i.e., cases in which claim for compensation can be filed, designation of a Special Court to decide these claims of compensation, nature of proceedings – timeline for deciding the claim, etc., financial and other factors to be considered while determining the compensation, provisions for interim compensation in certain cases, removal of disqualification on account of wrongful prosecution / conviction etc.
A draft Bill is also annexed with the Report as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Facts for Prelims:
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’, ratified by India) also creates an obligation on the State parties to enact a law to compensate the victims of such miscarriage of justice.
Innovation Cell has been launched by the Ministry of HRD.
MHRD Innovation Cell (MIC):
Innovation cell is MHRD’s initiative established at AICTE with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country.
The primary mandate of Innovation Cell is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years fostered through Network of Innovation clubs in Higher Educational Institutions.
Significance and the need for innovation:
Without innovation no country can achieve sustainable development and prosperity. 21st century is century of Innovation, and the Prime Minister of India has called the decade 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’, to unleash the creative potential of every Indian. India has already been improving on global stage in terms of Innovation ranking from 86th place, 5 years ago, to 57th place this year.
International Energy Agency (IEA)
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Enhancing Innovation for Clean Energy Transition.
Highlights of the MoU:
The MoU seeks to deepen co-operation in support of clean energy innovations to accelerate the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of clean energy technologies in India and will help support the generation of data for policymaking and improve knowledge of good policy practices for innovation in India and around the world.
The MoU will ensure cooperation for sharing of energy policies on RD&D and sharing of best practices on data collection and analysis. This MoU also has a provision for activities such as training and capacity building and accelerating energy innovation by identifying sources of finance.
About International Energy Agency:
Founded in 1974, the IEA was initially designed to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil, such as the crisis of 1973/4. While this remains a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly.
Important functions performed by IEA:
The IEA examines the full spectrum of energy issues including oil, gas and coal supply and demand, renewable energy technologies, electricity markets, energy efficiency, access to energy, demand side management and much more.
Through its work, the IEA advocates policies that will enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy in its member countries and beyond.
Its publications include the flagship World Energy Outlook and the IEA Market Reports; data and statistics, such as Key World Energy Statistics and the Monthly Oil Data Service; and a series of training and capacity building workshops, presentations, and resources.
The four main areas of IEA focus are:
Energy Security: Promoting diversity, efficiency, flexibility and reliability for all fuels and energy sources;
Economic Development: Supporting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
Environmental Awareness: Analysing policy options to offset the impact of energy production and use on the environment, especially for tackling climate change and air pollution; and
Engagement Worldwide: Working closely with partner countries, especially major emerging economies, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.
RCEP Ministerial Meeting
6th RCEP Trade Ministers’ Meeting is being held at Singapore.
India has been constructively engaged in the RCEP negotiations with an aim to work towards a high quality, balanced and inclusive outcomes that take into consideration sensitivities and interests of member countries.
What you need to know about RCEP?
RCEP is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. RCEP aims to boost goods trade by eliminating most tariff and non-tariff barriers — a move that is expected to provide the region’s consumers greater choice of quality products at affordable rates. It also seeks to liberalise investment norms and do away with services trade restrictions.
India’s Concerns with member countries:
Greater access to Chinese goods may have impact on the Indian manufacturing sector. India has already got massive trade deficit with China.
There are demands by other RCEP countries for lowering customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.
Challenges ahead for India:
More developed countries such as Australia and Singapore are unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers.
The negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, among 16 Asian and Pacific Ocean countries, have entered a decisive phase. Most potential member-countries of the grouping would like to see a “substantive agreement” on the trade deal by the end of this year.
At a meeting in Singapore countries which still have issues with the outline of the agreements reached so far may be told politely to step aside and allow a smaller group to go ahead with finalising the RCEP.
SAARC Agri Cooperative Business Forum
The first South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Agri Cooperative Business Forum was held recently in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Theme: ‘Organizing and Strengthening Family Farmers’ Cooperatives to attain the Sustainable-Development-Goals-1 and 2 in South Asia’.
About SAARC Agri Cooperative Business Forum:
Organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations and Asian Farmers’ Association with the support from International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Aim: To provide platform to bring together representatives both from government and non-governmental entities from member states of SAARC as well as from regional and international organizations.
WHAT IS SAARC?
SAARC stands for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It is a geopolitical cooperation maintained for mutual benefits between eight south Asian nations: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Maldives.
Other key facts:
SAARC Summits are held annually. There have been, however, times when the summits skipped a year.
The diplomatic summits can only take place when all the members of SAARC are present.
SAARC Secretariat is based in Kathmandu. It is responsible for monitoring the activities of the cooperation.
The body was founded in Dhaka in 1985.
In a landmark move, SAARC nations unanimously decided to form South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). Although the agreement was reached at the 12th SAARC summit in 2004, it came into force on 1 January 2006. The agreement not only created a free trade area of 1.8 billion people in SAARC nations (except Afghanistan), but also removed trade barriers to increase the level of economic cooperation.
Source: The Hindu
India’s National Redd+ Strategy
Complying with the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its National REDD+ Strategy. The Strategy builds upon existing national circumstances which have been updated in line with India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Green India Mission and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC.
The strategy report has been prepared by Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun.
Paris agreement on climate change recognises role of forests in climate change mitigation and calls upon participating nations to take action to implement and support REDD+. Complying with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its national REDD+ strategy and soon it will be communicated to UNFCCC.”
In simple terms, REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
REDD+ is a mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
It creates a financial value for the carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
Developing countries would receive results-based payments for results-based actions. REDD+ goes beyond simply deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
In a heartening development for conservationists, a recent census has revealed that the population of the Nilgiri tahr (an endangered mountain goat) at the Mukurthi National Park has grown by an impressive 18% in the last two years, from 480 to 568.
Threats: The population also faces several threats. Researchers point to the continuing spread of invasive species of flora, such as wattle and pine, and exotic weeds like scotch broom (Cystisus scoparius) and gorse, which end up diminishing grazing land.
Nilgiri Tahr- Key facts:
Source: The Hindu
‘Call for Code’ initiative
It is an initiative launched by Global IT giant IBM in partnership with Indian IT companies.
Aim: The aim is to build global solutions for disaster management. It also aims to bring startup, academic and enterprise developers together to respond to and recover from natural disasters.
International Energy Agency